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Veterans Day is celebrated in the United States every day on November 11th. This year, the date is creating quite the stir, not only because it is Veterans Day but also because the date itself is 11/11/11 and specifically this morning at 11:11 a.m. it  will be 11/11/11 – 11:11 – same goes for 11:11 p.m. this evening. It is the last time in a century that the date will contain only binary digits – 1 and/or 0.

But why November 11th? Is there significance to the date chosen to celebrate the men and women who have left behind loved ones and friends to make our country and the world safe? Many of whom never returned home to their own families.

Yes. At the end of World War I, the armistice known as the Treaty of Versailles was to go into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year. Hence November 11th, 1918 at 11 a.m. is considered the end of the war to end all wars.

Veterans' Cemetery

Image by The U.S. National Archives via Flickr

The day was originally celebrated with parades and celebrations of the end of the war and a brief cessation of all business at 11:00 a.m. in commemoration of the peace treaty. It was declared a federal holiday in 1938 and in 1954   “Armistice” was dropped and “Veteran” replaced it as a way to honor all those American Military personnel who served in all wars.

For a brief period Veterans Day was switched to another day to comply with the Uniform Holiday Act. It was however quickly switched back to the day which holds a special place in history.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

 To all those who gave so much of themselves and their families and continue to do so…….. Thank you.
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2006 Christmas stamp, Ukraine, showing St. Nic...
Image via Wikipedia

December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and is well known for his generosity, particularly toward children. His parents died when he was young and he gave away all of his inheritance to help others. He became well known for throwing coins in the windows of the poor families. Some of the coins landed in children’s shoes or stockings and when word got out, many children would hang their stockings in the hopes that St. Nicholas would see to it to throw coins in their stockings. Nicholas went onto become a bishop and ultimately died on December 6th, the holiday which celebrates his life.

In many countries in Europe, St. Nicholas Day is the day on which presents are exchanged. In many countries, Christmas Day is a purely religious holiday with no gifts being exchanged whatsoever.

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Dean Rutz Seattle Times

Just when you don’t believe in the power of the human spirit and that there really are lots of good-hearted people out there in this world, along comes some “happy” news.

Hundreds of volunteers came together to put on one of the most elaborate Make-A-Wish Foundation‘s wishes ever. In Seattle a little boy, about the same age as my sons, got to save a whole lot of people in his capacity as a superhero and it gave him “the best day of my life.”

Spiderman, the Seattle Sounders, the Seattle Police Department and the Puget Sound Electric Company all contributed to this fantastic wish. You really have to read the whole story, a lot of people with a lot of heart made a wonderful day for a little boy.

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Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day – a day set aside to inspire awareness of our planet and its environment. The holiday was founded 40 years ago by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. It has blossomed into a world-wide celebration of Mother Earth and everything environmental – from global warming to gardening.

According to Yumsugar.com here are some fun Earth Day facts:

  • After Halloween and Christmas, Earth Day is the third largest holiday celebrated in elementary schools
  • It is the largest secular modern holiday in the entire world, celebrated in 175 countries every year.
  • The highlight of the annual Earth Day Ceremony at the United Nations is the ringing of the Peace Bell. It was made from coins given by school children in Japan to further peace on the planet.

Earthday.org is asking everyone to drop by their site and contribute an Act of Green. They are looking to acquire a Billion Acts of Green. Stop by and submit your act of green.

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Snowboarding is an American sport. As American as Apple pie, some would say. It was developed here in this country and the primary developers of snowboards came from here. One of the pioneer builders of snowboards Jake Burton moved to Londonderry, Vermont in 1977 to make what later became known as snowboards. And make them, he and his company did. They were at the forefront of snowboard development and Burton, a privately held company, still commandeers the market. Burton snowboards are used by the icons of the sport, Shaun White, Hannah Teeter. Burton snowboards, known the world-over were still produced primarily right here in Vermont. Sad isn’t it that yesterday Burton announced that it will be moving its main manufacturing facility not just out of Vermont, but out of the United States completely. To Austria, the newspapers say to be incorporated into the manufacturing facility that they have had there for 25 years. Oh, and to China, too. But we won’t mention that – at least the newspapers really didn’t and evidently Burton doesn’t really want to talk about that part either.

It’s a sad commentary on the way that our country and our state handles companies that are home-grown. The decision by Burton move its manufacturing facilities out of Vermont has, evidently, been a long time coming. It’s just really disturbing that it had to come at all.

Burton will still maintain its world headquarters in Burlington, Vermont and it is expanding a production facility that will produce the newest snowboards that are not  for sale but will be offered to snowboarding athletes for their use.

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Photo: Rutland Herald

For those of you in the Vermont area, you undoubtedly have sat by, day after day, in the last few weeks, hearing about the tritium leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. So have I. There are very few times in my life that I have felt passionate enough about a subject to stand up and be counted. This, however, is one of those times. The state of Vermont is literally sitting on its hands while they allow an outside corporation, Entergy, to leak radioactive materials into the groundwater. Just the day before yesterday, it was disclosed that they are drilling test wells to test the water in the nearby elementary school and nursing home to see if it too is contaminated. Almost simultaneously news broke that the leak has spread to the Connecticut River. The Vermont Legislature’s own experts have said that the leak is larger than a football field, 35 feet deep, 400 feet long and 200 feet wide. More importantly than that, it is possibly leaking into the water that children in the area who attend the local elementary school wash with and drink. Am I the only one that is outraged and startled by this? That same evening, in the newspaper alongside this news was an article how the Vermont Legislature is writing to Boy Scouts to review its policy on homosexuality to permit a lesbian couple to be cub scout leaders? Where are the Legislators’ priorities at this moment in time? The news is conspicuously absent any mention of how the Legislature or the Governor was taking action to CLOSE THIS PLANT DOWN in order to immediately contain the environmental impact. Nope, not a word. Water that is a part of daily Vermont life and considered a natural resource is being contaminated on a daily basis and that contamination is now into the river. The river that we share with New Hampshire and that flows into Massachusetts. The river that children swim in and farmers take water from to feed livestock that we eat and produce the milk for our dairy products. This morning’s paper had the headline that the Legislature’s own expert advised that the ONLY way to stop the leak is to shut the plant down. Yet, no action has been taken. Sad however to say that a local man, a few towns over from here, buried some oil barrels full of waste oil on his property. He was short of crucified by the authorities for causing environmental contamination. Yet, a multibillion dollar corporation can operate a plant which is causing contamination that is light years of magnitude larger than the little man with his oil barrels. Another instance of how our government somehow cringes in the face of the corporations yet its own constituents, the ones that elected them and chose them to represent the people’s interests are treated like second class citizens. At what point have we become, not a government of the people, by the people and for the people, but rather a government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations? It is a sad commentary on our government, both the legislature that supposedly represents our interests and the governor that has taken a duty to serve the people of Vermont, that both would cowtow to a corporation, giving it one opportunity after the next to lie, rather than take swift decisive action.

The argument is that the closure of the plant would result in loss of electricity for the state and jobs. These are things that are not temporal, rather it is real and it will have real and very long consequences. Far longer than the loss of jobs or the transfer of electricity sources, which will be temporary inconveniences and roadblocks. I am sure that there is not one person out there, employed by Entergy or not, who would prefer that they and their children endure the consequences of contaminated water. I am sure that if push came to shove, not one of those people would sit down and gulp a big giant glass of the water coming from the plant or the water sources that it has now contaminated and thought that it was good. We are not a stupid people.

I have watched from the sidelines since we live no where near this part of Vermont. If I lived closer, if it were my children’s school that may potentially be involved or my dairy farm that was now in danger, I would be living at the Legislature’s building as I am sure that many who do live in the area are doing right now. I would be camping out on my Legislator’s dooryard. I would be demanding action and they would not be able to ignore me. I would be the thorn in their side on this issue.

Let’s hope that by enough outrage, our Legislators and our Governor finally take some decisive swift action. Someone has to make a move, let’s hope it’s just not too late – for all of us.

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Bayer AG

Image via Wikipedia

The Yaz/Yasmin litigation has been consolidated into one court, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. A pre-trial conference will take place on January 21, 2010. It is anticipated that Chief Judge David Herndon will proceed with several bellwether trials in this matter. Bellwether trials are advisory only trials in which the jury’s decision does not bind the parties but is used to help the parties see how the case will fair before a jury and ultimately assist in placing a settlement value on the case.

The number of lawsuits which may be ultimately included in the multi-district litigation is anticipated at approximately 25,000. This is reported to make the Yaz litigation the largest multi-district litigation assigned to this District Court.

A large number of women who have taken Yaz or Yasmin, both manufactured by Bayer allege that the contraceptive pills which contain dropspirenone have caused a various of illnesses, strokes and even death. Women allege in their litigation that Bayer failed to properly warn consumers of the dangers involved.

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Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
Image via Wikipedia

This is a big debate surrounding the ski slopes at Whistler where the 2010 Winter Olympic games will kick off in about a month. It is a fairly common practice evidently in competitive skiing events to use water injection. Using this method, water is injected via a tiny nozzle one to two feet below the snow level and freezes. The idea is that it creates a skiing surface that is better able to withstand repetitive skiing over the same area and less than ideal weather conditions. The down side is that many skiers dislike skiing on the water injected surfaces which have been compared to skiing on “pond ice” according to U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn. Vonn evidently suffered injuries after falling on a slalom course which caused her to have to use a sling on her arm.

It is anticipated that the Olympic ski courses, at least those used by the men’s events, may well use the water injection method.

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Vermont and skiing seem to go together naturally. In fact, in many respects, Vermont’s history is instrumental to the sport of skiing. In the early 1900′s a group of Norwegians living by Stowe, Vermont introduced the concept of strapping pieces of wood to one’s feet to navigate the almost impassable roadways during the winter time. The idea slowly caught on with the locals. Ski jumps were built in Mt. Mansfield and Middlebury, Vermont and competitions began to take form. The first ski race in Vermont happened at Mt. Mansfield in 1934 when a group of skiers climbed the mountain and then raced down it on their skis.

The first tow-rope was also created here in Vermont by a man called Bunny Bertram in Woodstock, Vermont. He rigged a Ford Model T engine with a continuous loop of rope, effectively pulling skiers up the hill. This concept caught on quickly and soon these tow ropes. Another Vermont resident Fred Pabst, took the tow rope idea to another level and created the J-bar which would drag skiers up the slopes without tearing up their hands and mittens. The first T-bar in the United States was put in at Pico Mountain, which was essentially a J-bar with another side, allowing two skiers to simultaneously be pulled up the mountain. This innovation made Pico Mountain “the” ski resort during the 1930s. The chairlift as we now know it, didn’t come to Vermont until the 1940s.

Mad River Glen would have its workers stomp the entire mountain by foot to groom it – from top to bottom (talk about exhausting).

Vermont has long been in the forefront of skiing as winter recreation. It is the third largest skiing state in the country and hosts over 4 million skiers a year, according to Governor Douglas. It is with this history that today Governor Douglas has proclaimed January “Learn a Snow Sport Month” here in Vermont.

From January 4 through January 11, most Vermont ski resorts are offering a free learn to ski or snowboard lesson and rentals. For information go to www.skivermont.com. The community outreach project initiated by Winter Feels Good is intended to introduce as many people as possible to the fun and exercise of winter snow sports.

Winter Trails offers a free opportunity to try snowshoeing or cross country skiing on January 9th. See www.wintertrails.org for information.

Information on the history of skiing in Vermont came from www.vermonter.com

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Today is Opening Day. No, not baseball opening day and no, not hunting opening day. Today is Snowmobiling Opening Day. Today is the first day that the VAST trails are open since hunting season ended yesterday.

Founded almost 40 years ago, VAST is responsible for the organization of the sport, maintaining and grooming trails. One of the oldest snowmobiling organizations in the U.S., VAST is a non-profit, private group that includes 138 clubs statewide, with over 35,000 members combined. (Taken from VAST’s site)

Beginning today, snowmobile trails throughout the state of Vermont are open for riding. Most of the riding takes place on private lands that landowners generously allow to be used by snowmobilers. Wouldn’t find that in New Jersey now would you? No one here thinks twice if a band of snowmobilers comes riding through their yard. After all, it’s winter. No more so than the rouge cross-country skier or snowshoer that wanders through.  Did you know that you can travel from one end of the state to the other solely by snowmobile? How cool is that? We are lucky that we have trails right outside of our door and Tom and Tyler will be off on the snowmobobies (as Tyler used to call them). The side benefit to me, is that I get my cross-country ski trails groomed in the mix. It’s all good.

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We received a call at 5:30 this morning from the automated alert system in the school district advising us that the entire district was closed down this morning for a snow day. The first snow day of the season is always pretty exciting and by the looks of it, this is going to be a good day to be inside, prepping for Christmas and maybe doing some baking.

I remember when we were in NJ and as class mother it was one of my job duties to call all the other parents in the class to advise them when there was a snow day. The variety of responses told a lot about the people, whether they realized it or not. There were those that I could tell I had woken up and they digested the information with that sleepy glaze in their voice. There were those, who you could tell were too serious for their own good, who sounded annoyed and disgusted. And then there were my favorites, the ones who sounded so excited, so happy, still retaining the childlike amazement of a snow day. Of course, there were those that, even at 5:30 or 6 a.m. didn’t even answer their phone. I often wondered if they didn’t care enough to find out who was calling or they weren’t home. In any event, those were usually the ones that were upset when they trotted their children all the way to school in less than ideal conditions to find it closed and decided that it was their right to complain.

When we moved here, we had to prep the boys and explain to them that this wasn’t going to be like New Jersey. People in Vermont were used to snow and it was expected and normal in the winter here, so snow days wouldn’t be like in NJ where even the forecast of some snow was enough to scare them into closing the schools. Today for example, they are predicting 60 mile per hour winds and 9 inches of snow with the possibility of ice thrown in there for good measure. We will probably lose power at some point, I will be surprised if we don’t.

This is what is it looking like out our window this morning.

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Photo: International Exchange Program - USNSCC

Photo: International Exchange Program - USNSCC

On September 11, 2002 the US Citizenship and Immigration Service in Vermont decided that it was fitting to set aside this date every year to swear in new citizens to this country. On September 11, 2001 the country fused together as it had not in a good long time. People came from around the country (and also the world) to help those in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that needed assistance. We citizens did what any family would do in a crisis, swarm in and take over – help where help was needed, do what needed to be done, even if it meant only to share the tears and offer shoulders to cry upon. There was a strong sense of pride in being American, a regeneration of the spirit that formed our country many, many years ago. So fitting then, that each day on the anniversary of one of this country’s greatest tragedies as a nation, we should welcome with open arms those that share our spirit and long to stand as one with us.

We have a dear friend, who a few years ago, studied hard and completed all of the paperwork necessary to become a citizen. It was a great celebration in our family and with our friends, for he is a great guy and a wonderful addition to our country. I know how difficult it is to take the time to make that commitment and how much it means to those that do it.

Today, in Montpelier, United States Circuit Court Judge Hall presided over the 8th such commemorative 9/11 ceremony, swearing in 91 immigrants from 37 countries. As of this afternoon each of these 91 can proudly call themselves “Americans”.

Congratulations to each and every one of you.

Evilwife on the move

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